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PM lashes out at PLP and Christie, points to FNM record of achievement
Friday, 23 March 2012 09:12

NASSAU, Bahamas -- Speaking at the Yamacraw constituency headquarters opening, Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham use the occasion to launch a scathing attack on the opposition PLP and its leader, Perry Christie. Ingraham pointed out the PLP’s failures and lack of respect for the democratic process and gave examples that showcased his administration’s record of positive change.

“The PLP likes to talk about democracy but they are not a very democratic party,” said the PM. “We should not forget that for a quarter century the PLP kept a tight lock on radio and television and stifled the voice of opposition in the country,” he said, stressing that it was the Free National Movement that “strengthened and deepened democracy by freeing the airwaves,” and it is the FNM now introducing Freedom of Information Act legislation.

Talking about him personally being criticized and attacked in some of the free media he helped create conditions for, the PM said that is “simply democracy,” and that freedom is synonymous with the FNM.

Flanked by Labor Minister and local candidate Dion Foulkes, the PM also reiterated his party’s vision for the future and offered more details on the FNM plans for the Bahamas during the next term in office.

Ingraham outlined the social vision FNM has for the Bahamas that would give all children and young people a fair chance to realizing their dreams.

“Ours is a vision of economic empowerment, poverty reduction and social mobility,” said the PM, adding that the FNM “wants every Bahamian to have access to quality education and training and retraining, if necessary.”

Speaking on the social issue of crime, the PM stressed the need to continue “addressing crime and its causes through law enforcement, social intervention and community and urban development.”

The PLP failed to overhaul key crime legislation, while the FNM passed the most comprehensive arsenal of anti-crime legislation since the nation’s independence. In the same vein, the FNM has increased the number of courts and magistrates and restored the full arsenal of measures needed to fight crime. In the next term the PM pledged to “launch the most ambitious and far-reaching social intervention measures in decades in the fight against crime and its causes.”

The enhanced access to quality healthcare, promoting healthy lifestyles, as well as modern social security, protection and assistance is amplified by plans to transform the Princess Margaret Hospital into a new general hospital and expand the facilities by adding a new maternal and child health wing and a new Emergency Department.

Continuing on healthcare, the PM pledged to double the period for National Insurance unemployment benefits from 13 to 26 weeks, expand the Prescription Drug Plan to cover all workers and their families and deliver national catastrophic health insurance.

Emphasizing the importance of education, Ingraham said the FNM will continue to implement its 10-year plan for education. To boost that, the FNM will establish the Bahamas Youth Development Corps that will give an opportunity to all Bahamians between the ages of 18 and 25 to volunteer their time at homework centres, after-school programmes, and to assist the elderly, the disabled and the disadvantaged while earning funds towards higher education or entrepreneurial ventures.

In addition, the FNM will introduce a Summer Institute for boys moving from primary school to junior high and create a Youth Development Centre in Southern New Providence to offer comprehensive youth development support.

Pointing to the politics of fear and division perpetuated by the PLP, the PM directly addressed some of the failures of the current opposition to affect any significant positive change while in power.

The Defence Force was badly underequipped and had to make do with a handful of old vessels—the current administration invested into and fixed that problem by increasing and modernizing the fleet.   

Presenting the FNM as “the better party for Bahamian workers,” the PM reminded the audience that the PLP failed to introduce a minimum wage for workers and it was the FNM that fixed that, as well as reducing the working week to 40 hours, in line with international standards.

Calling the PLP self-interested, the PM mentioned they were unable to build a single school while in office by contrast with the FNM that during the current term “built three new schools and expanded eight more.”

Furthering his administration’s record on education, Ingraham talked about the increased national and international scholarships offered to qualifying Bahamians from the PLP’s $400,000 in their last year in office to $8 million this year alone. Similarly, tuition funding to College of the Bahamas for eligible Bahamian students increased five-fold from $5 million during PLPs last term in office to $25 million during FNMs current administration.

The PM called as unrealistic PLP’s and Perry Christie’s promises they will double funding for education and increase spending on other programs. “Just like the National Stadium, all the talk about doubling the funding for education is just in his mind; like the Stadium; like the Straw market; like LPIA – all only in his mind,” said Ingraham referring to Perry Christie.

The PM pointed that PLP’s promises clash with their criticism of government borrowing today. “How do they propose to finance their agenda promises?” asked Ingraham emphatically.

Dion Foulkes (FNM photo)The PM and Dion Foulkes also stressed the FNM is not only the best party for workers but also for women. While the PLP paid lip service to equality for women and access to politics, they failed to give a woman candidate a winnable seat in 20 years. By contrast, the FNM elected Janet Bostwick to parliament in 1982 and 25 percent of FNM candidates in 2012 are women.

Citing a newspaper report conducted for International Women’s Day the PM boasted that “the Bahamas holds the top spot globally for economic participation and opportunity for women, while the UK ranks 33rd. The Bahamas has closed its gender gap by 91 percent in the past” several years.  

Ingraham also urged all Bahamians to act free and fair by registering to vote only ones in the constituency where they actually reside. He gave the example of North Andros by saying that many of those who registered there without residing have now decided to change their registrations back to their place of residency.

Click HERE to read the PM's complete remarks (PDF)

Click HERE to read Yamacraw candidate Dion Foulkes' remarks (PDF)

(FNM photos)

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